On. Off. On. Off.

Geek Culture

I know, I know.  I bragged about how cleverly the little guy handled the TV remote with his cute little fingers.  I deserved what I got when he learned how to operate the on/off button on the TV.   But did I deserve it so many times?

FingersFingers On.  Off. On. Off.  Saying "No!" didn’t work, all 300 times.  Redirection was only temporary.  Even the threats from his older brothers when Mythbusters was interrupted only served to egg him on.

I needed a solution before things got really ugly. Bonus points if it involved melting stuff.

After a quick trip to the Big Box store, I was ready to experiment.  I bought a sheet of clear polycarbonate that was as wide  as my TV and prepared to heat it with a Propane torch and bend it to fit the TV profile. The TV controls, IR sensor and one set of video inputs are on the lower front edge between the speakers so I didn’t need to extend the plastic in front of the screen.  I planned on drilling holes for sound, the video inputs and the one button my remote ignores.  If it worked, our little guy couldn’t get to the button that was driving us crazy, but we could still use the remotes through the clear plastic.

The first effort uglified the room. Overheating bubbles and discolors the plastic.  Trying to match the curve of the TV created a ‘muffin-top’ look at the front edges. But it worked.

A simple scrap wood jig simplified the second effort.  The angle of the front edge matched the angle of the front of the TV, inverted for a gravity assist. Constant movement of the torch over the edge allowed bending without overheating.  A friend helped me bend it in place.

Once it was in place, snug up against the TV, it was nearly invisible from the couch.      

Here’s what you need to know if you try this yourself:  The plastic was brittle, cracking on me when I tried to drill some holes when there wasn’t wood behind it.  The sound wasn’t noticeably diminished by the shield so I skipped speaker holes on the second try because of the cracking risk. If your toddler yanks on it enough, it could break off into sharp pieces, but we’ve had no issues.

The fumes are not good for you, keep it well ventilated.   The plastic holds the heat well, so I used gloves and vise grips to do the bending. 

What are your techniques for denying your toddler the power of "On Off On"?

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